Being Overwhelmed

Hey, everyone! I hope you are all having a good weekend so far. I got up just after six this morning. Earlier this week we started tearing down old wallpaper in what is to become our new bedroom, and before that it feels like I haven’t gotten out to photograph as much as I’d like to. So when I woke up this morning, I decided to grab my camera gear and step outside. I’m so happy I did. Starting the day outside–that crisp air, the silence, the rising autumn sun on my face and the smells of the forest and our fields–is like chicken soup for the soul.

When I started this post I had no intentions of writing as much as I did, but I feel a lot better after getting these things off my chest, and even if you don’t read it all or only look at the photos, I am so thankful for your visit. ❤

Soulfulness

Do you ever feel like there is so much you have to do, so many things you would like to do, but no matter how hard you try to plan it and structure it nothing seems to get done? And it doesn’t matter if I sit back and see I have, in fact, accomplished a lot. All those things that were so important (to me or to others around me) pile up and pile up. I go through so many stages. First, I sit down and write in my journal; I make a list of all the things in my head. Then I re-write it in priority order. Once that is done I estimate the time the tasks will take, re-organise the priorities if need be, then write up a to-do list with as realistic time frames as possible, because it’s such a great feeling to see all those tasks crossed off the list, right?

And then it works. For about a week, maybe two. Slowly, I skip a thing here or a thing there, thinking I have done so well, and one thing won’t hurt. Suddenly a month has passed, and I am an exhausted, moody mess again. So is the house. And then it goes out over my family, which makes me so sad and annoyed with myself.

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But here is our new bedroom. What will be our new bedroom. For years now we have slept in Jay’s childhood bedroom. It wasn’t a living area to begin with–it lies door to door with the attic, and didn’t even have stairs once upon a time. The ceiling is really low, too. I can reach it if I stretch upward, and I don’t even have to get on my tiptoes. That is saying something since I am not very tall. And it really looks like a kid’s room–it even has those glow-in-the-dark stars and planets on the ceiling. They are cute, but it was time for our own bedroom, you know? The entire house still needs de-cluttering and some love, but I do try my hardest to take it a day at a time. Either way, when I came back home from my studies December last year, we talked things over and I set up some plans and goals.

This house is nearly 200 square meters (not counting the basement floor, where the shower and sauna is) and the walls on the main floor are almost three meters tall. For someone who is 165 cm, that’s a challenge to work with. I remember the struggle when I put up wallpapers in our living room, so I decided to paint the bedroom. Jay helps when he can, but he has so much else to do that all these renovation projects are more or less up to me to plan and carry through. Jay’s father helped me with some of the wallpapers in the living room and I am so grateful.

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Jay came to help me when I was swearing my head off for not reaching. Tall men are so handy, right? 😉

I often think of the women who lived in this house before me, and even though the house used to be smaller before the addition in the 1940’s, I admire how they kept this place sparkling and tidy. Jay’s mother, for example, is a pro. She kept this house so beautiful always. All the furniture, all the ornaments, all the things gathering dust were spotless. I think Loke is the first dog that has ever lived in this house, by the way, and since he sheds so much hair I have to vacuum at least once a day or it ends up in our underwear. Or my camera! And then there’s all the windows… Worst thing I know! Haha I love this house, though, and all the freedom that comes with living out here on the countryside. So even if I am drowning in all the work, I wouldn’t ever trade it for an apartment. I’m like a captain of a ship–I’ll go down with it.

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Still I go through these cycles of being on top of it all until I sink so deep I can hardly breathe. I know it’s wreaking havoc on my health–I’m turning thirty-seven in December and I am already getting gray hairs! Not that I mind them. I think it looks charming. But that’s not why they have started popping up, and my restless, light sleeping patterns during the nights get more and more persistent. I start yoga again next weekend, so that is something I know will help.

I don’t carry any illusions of that the house will shrink or that it will ever take less time to clean it all, but I do know that during the two years I studied in Sweden, only the basics were taken care of here. So regardless of all my planning and reminding myself to be realistic and do one thing at a time–I will get it all worked out in the end–right now, I feel like I am coming apart at the seams. I have been back home for eight months now and I was supposed to have gotten things back into order by now.

On top of that, I have to be ready to pitch in with farm work whenever I am needed. Thankfully, the most time-consuming jobs here at the farm take place a few weeks during spring and a few weeks in autumn. And I love doing that job, too. I love my entire life. So that makes me even more frustrated and perplexed when I get so down and moody. Do you know what I mean?

All this while grabbing every opportunity to build on my own personal dreams and goals of a career as a photographer and artist. I am constantly working for those extra special images for an online gallery. I have said to myself that I will have a web shop up by the end of this year–that is my goal. I am currently waiting for Printler‘s (a Swedish online shop for photographic art prints) international launch, which is supposed to happen this autumn. It feels like a good place to start. At first I thought of getting in contact with a printing firm myself, but then I thought of how I am basically no one yet, and to register as a private business right now seems odd. What do I tell them? Hey, I love taking photos and I want to sell them. Can I get a business registration number? Haha Or maybe that is how it goes? I honestly don’t know.

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All this said, I also know that breaks are needed. If I keep pushing through when I am running on empty, I will end up flat on the floor. It’s finding the balance that for me is the most difficult. Getting into a routine that works. When I feel good, when I have energy, I just go, go, go. Stopping for a break when I have flow is the toughest challenge out of them all. I don’t know if it’s a subconscious thing because some part of me knows how much harder I have to work when I hit those lows, so I squeeze the up-swings for all they are worth. How great wouldn’t it be to learn to hit the pause button at those times and get an overall good enough flow?

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When I am out in nature, it all comes so effortlessly. I am in harmony with my surroundings and it’s like nature itself guides me on wordless levels. Communicates with a deeper part of me and I don’t think of when or how or where. When it’s time to move on, I move on. It becomes more basic, perhaps. More physical. Instinctual. The course of the sun, the guidance of the wind, the gentle whisper of trees and streams. Jay tells me sometimes to go outside, reminds me it will make me feel better. When I am inside too long it’s like I slowly become deaf to my own self. Does that make sense?

NatureFriends

I heard the strangest noise when I was sitting in the field this morning. It was a call of awareness, to let me know I wasn’t alone. I almost got scared but turned, and this deer came skipping across the ditch from the oat field next to the barley field where I was. We looked at each other, and as I slowly turned my camera, it kept coming closer. For what seemed like the longest time, it grazed along the edge, munched on the foliage there, while looking at me from time to time. I snapped a few photos, and it cocked its head when my camera clicked but didn’t seem to mind. A few shots later, it bounced across the field and disappeared into the forest.

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These quiet morning moments unravel all the knots and tension in both body and soul, and I always come home with a sense of revival. I hope to find it in me to remember this better, especially now when autumn truly is opening its doors to the year’s most vibrant season of burning sunsets and glowing canopies.

I wish you a wonderful evening and great weekend! Much love. ❤

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Among Fields And Smiling Finns

Yet another weekend has passed and we are gearing up for another week. A busy week. For farmers there is no such thing as weekend, though, and Nine-To-Five doesn’t exist. The field work has commenced so we are looking at a very full-specked stretch ahead of us. For now, though, may tractors, their drivers and the harrowed fields rest for a few hours before it’s time to go again. Unless that rain we’ve been promised comes pattering down.

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Looking out earlier as my partner’s father was out there, I remembered how after sowing birds come flocking. And I’m not talking a few–literally tons. Okay, maybe not tons, but a lot. Seagulls. We don’t really see them around, and in spite of being in the Land Of A Thousand Lakes, we do not have any major ones closeby. But that doesn’t matter; once those seeds are in the ground those gulls somehow find their way here. This year I will be sure to have my camera ready!

Tonight, however, I am readying my camera for something else entirely. While thinking ahead of the week to come, and what opportunities to grab to practice my photography, it suddenly hit me. Sammallahdenmäki (Moss Cove Hill). All the years I have lived here and I have completely forgotten we have a prehistoric archeological World Heritage site, practically in our local backwoods. It’s the perfect spot for light hiking and an afternoon picnic with my daughter. So once that sun peeks out again, we are off on a little adventure.

What about you? What does your week look like?

I will leave you with a photograph I played around with of my special guy–he came back from parking the tractors for the night as I was trying to catch the sunset. For now, I wish you all a wonderful Sunday evening and a great week.

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I call it “The Smiling Finn” – a rare but oh-so-charming sight to behold.

Re-channel Focus And Gain Inspiration

In my last post I wrote about perception and about getting distance in order to gain insight and appreciation for what you do, in fact, have. In light of that and the odd sense of emptiness that can come after you feel you have accomplished something you set out to do, I am going to focus on my life today in this post.

After I published Shaped By Thousands Of Years I thought “Okay, which adventure do I go for next?” I browsed some photos, visited some blogs and sites, and didn’t really do much else that evening. Although I did get rather excited when someone tweeted my post on Twitter, then freaked out because, well, I wanted to thank the person and I get anxious when I get eager. But I won’t go into that now. The next morning after Loke’s morning round, I took a big cup of coffee and sat down in the home office to look at my Google Calendar (which was a suggested goal to set up that I snatched off Daily Post’s newbie blogger advice page).

As I sat there staring at my schedule I felt totally scatter-brained. Where do I even begin? What do I do? I had my instructions right in front of me, all the photos picked out for several posts, a journal full of material and inspiration from the past two years, but it didn’t matter. I was simply stuck. And thoroughly bummed out because I couldn’t find the cable for my DSLR to transfer some photos from last winter. I had to have what I didn’t have. Typical.

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But I got the winter tyres changed, so cheers!

Glancing at my journal now for that day, I see a lone word on one line shouting at me in All-Caps: FAIL. The lines that follow consist of me writing myself back to sanity, focus and reality. And before I went to bed that night, after admitting it’s all right that I didn’t get any work done on my blog, I wrote myself a goal for the following morning. I would get my butt out of bed one hour early, before the rest of the clan, and take Loke and my camera outside, get a bunch of photos, but also enjoy the moment for what it is.

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Despite a crisp couple of degrees above zero it was a gorgeous morning; we stayed in the early hour sunshine for almost an hour before I went back inside to make some coffee. (I do love my coffee, a little too much, perhaps.) Later that day I went into Rauma, a very charming town that I will have to show you at some point. Old Rauma specifically, which is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

While in town I got myself a replacement cable and later that evening I found the old one. I laughed. You think you have looked everywhere and then you haven’t. Either way I could finally get my photos transferred, plus the ones I took yesterday morning.

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Loke hears rustling in the grass. A field mouse?

And yesterday evening I went outside to take more photos, because I was so excited about my remote shutter that I have been wanting to get for ages.

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Getting outside and staying there with my best buddy and my camera got me some of that distance I needed to rechannel my focus and gain inspiration. So once again this morning I went outside, but a little further. Down to the river that runs at the edge of our fields to the (I think) west. I have been there before but that was almost three years ago, when I was juggling studies, thirty-hour work weeks, and taking care of a huge house while keeping myself together in-between therapy sessions to treat my social phobia, panic disorder, PTSD. Now I came in search of the tranquility I remember finding there, and found it. That and so much more.

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One hour and a few dozen photos later, Loke and I wandered through the forest and walked home. On our way up the back road I stopped to take some more photos but eventually made it home. I got my customary cup of coffee and went a little crazy with the edits, thus the wild colors. I have no idea what I am doing but there is so much cool stuff you can do with RAW format. I love it.

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The field work is about to commence and soon I’ll get to spend my afternoons here, bouncing around in the seat of an old tractor.

Even though I am no longer in a work place, nor in school with times to keep and assignment deadlines to meet, I have plenty of things that fill up my day. And all the opportunities in the world, I just have to reach out and take them. Most days I believe it, most days I reach for it, but some days are more challenging than others when it comes to staying focused and sticking to my goals. We tend to reach for more and much further than what we can possibly achieve in one moment, let alone a day or a year. I wrote in my journal two years ago that all the things that last take time. I’m not sure what I meant by that at the time; judging by some other things I wrote in that entry I get the feeling I was frustrated with myself because I kept failing at something (and possibly half asleep because some sentences truly don’t make sense). But looking at it now, I see something that means sustainable results come after continuous effort has been made, again and again, over a greater period of time. Like me finally finishing my eligibility for university studies, at the age of 36. After years of trying and failing because I gave up and didn’t stick with it. But this time I did, by not accepting that voice that told me I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t clever enough, I wasn’t good enough. Instead of convincing myself I can’t do this I kept telling myself I can do this. I will do this.

So today I want to tell you that it feels so damn good to stand at the edge of these fields and remember how hard I worked to get here. Right here. I made it. And I am home.